Thursday, October 28, 2010

Random - Class Parties

We got one of "those" emails at school yesterday....the one that tells us we can't have a Halloween party. No problem....we've been getting those for years. Most teachers plan a party but don't make any reference to Halloween thus being able to say, "We aren't having a Halloween party." (I love that teachers can find the loop holes in just about anything! We are like miniature lawyers in the classroom when wording is vague :)

In our school district we are about to go on a week fall break and it is the end of the quarter so our parties are called an "End of Quarter" party (and we have four of them a year). Other teachers are calling their "party" a Fun Friday.

This email was a little different and seemed to indicate that ALL parties were not allowed. Whoa!!!!!! That caused a little stir in our world (mostly because notices have gone out to parents, children are excited about it, etc.). The emails started flying back and forth.

The second email was an allowance of this Friday's non-Halloween parties but with a caveat about "no junk food" and "no hard candy" (even if given out and told to eat later....DARN...our loop holes are closing :) and a promise of "discussions at the next staff meeting in conjunction with the districts health and wellness plan." Ugh!!!!!!

Now I am fan of less junk not get me wrong...and I often request health snacks in my letter home (fruit, veggie, cheese tray) but lets face it....I teach elementary school and I also get chips, cupcakes, etc. I don't stress out about. We are talking about one day out of nine weeks, on a Friday, usually outside, involves parents, at the end of the day (last 30-45 minutes)... which I think is all very reasonable and is in no means excessive or puts anyone out...but it looks like I will have to defend my position at the staff meeting...which means reading the district's health and wellness plan this weekend in order to argue intelligently...which I always tell students they should do.

But lets go back to parties....

As stated before, we (by which I mean my team) have four "End of Quarter" parties a year. Last year the first two were sort of "pot luck" (everyone brings whatever snacky and we eat at the end of the day). The third (just before spring break) we had an ice cream party where we (the teachers) provided the vanilla ice cream and the students provided the toppings (which was a lot of fun and the kids loved it). The last party was a hot dog and fixin' party where we provided the hot dogs and they provided everything else from cole slaw to shredded cheese to condiments (also a lot of fun and replaced our lunch for the day). We set up two crockpots in each classroom and students went down an assembly line making their hot dogs.

I loved loved loved the last two theme parties and have been thinking that all our parties need to be themed now. With talk about healthier eating, particularly around Halloween, I was thinking that next year we could have a "salad party". Teachers provide the lettuce and the students provide the toppings (tomato, ham, cheese, croutons, dressing, etc.). Students could opt out and provide their own lunch if they don't like salads. Another theme I was thinking would be fun would be a "Color Group" party where you would assign a specific color to a group of students and they would have to bring in food that matches that color. You could assign points for the groups and they could earn extra points for their color group if they bring in something healthy. The color group with the most points would win something cheesy (like front of the line privileges, etc.).

Sorry for the rambling....I had the party thing on the brain and I thought I would share. I would love to hear any other themed ideas that teachers have done in their class or other experiences with party rules.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pop Ups

A friend of mine showed me this pop up site that I thought was pretty cool. It could easily be incorporated into a notebook...particularly the animal ones in conjunction with learning about the animal in science

There are some boat ones that I thought might be fun if you studied explorers in Social Studies.

I am not sure how hard they are to make but I thought I would give it a try and see if I think fourth graders (and myself) are up for the challenge :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Posting Standards/Objectives/Essential Questions

I saw this in a classroom and really liked the set up. She had a parent volunteer make it for her after explaining what she needed.

The volunteer had taken a cut down sheet of poster board and laminated it. She used double sided tape and plastic sheet protectors.

The orange one was for one subject area and the purple is for another that she teaches.

She simply slides in the standards, objective, and essential question in the plastic sheet protectors.
Those are mostly on display for the folks coming in to observe. She does a more "child friendly" version of these on her flipcharts at the beginning of her lessons.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How To - Rain Gauge

I had made the larger one in the last picture at a science professional development program at Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, SC. One of the teachers in the class said that she made them on a smaller scale with empty soda/water bottles so I thought I would give it a shot.
Teacher Tips:
- Have students bring in the bottles. Collect until you have enough. Kids love doing contributing to a project and mine always asked if we had enough yet.
- I took all of the bottles home in a large trash bag and precut all the tops while watching tv (and made the drainage holes). I kept the top and base together by using small cut pieces of packaging tape so that students had a matching top and bottom (they would just take off the tape when we started the project).
- I modeled what I did at home in front of the students in case they wanted to make one on their own at home.
- Make extras of EVERYTHING (bottles and cut pieces of duct tape).
- Pour aquarium gravel into a shoe box and have students use a dixie cup to scoop out (aquarium gravel can usually be found in one of the life science kits).
- I like the red duct tape but at Micheals you can buy all different colors.
- Start the zero point on the ruler just above the gravel. The intent is for students to fill the bottle up with water to the zero line. They would then put it outside and after a rain record how much rain fell (they they would tip over the rain gauge and drain out all the water and then refill water up to the zero line again)
- It helps to have another adult (parent volunteer or adminstrator) help with this project.